New taxi safety plan

The Mitchell's Plain northern taxi terminal, bordered by Third and First avenues in Eastridge.

A minibus-taxi transformation pilot project could lead the way for a better service for commuters.

Driver behaviour, safety and reliability as well as rank management would be regulated.

The pilot project involves Hazeldene, Seventh Avenue, Route 6 and the Caravalle and Lentegeur taxi associations becoming a transport operating company (TOC).

The company and the City will look at improving cleanliness, maintenance and security at Mitchell’s Plain interchanges.

Henry Williams, founder and a director of the Mitchell’s Plain Integrated Rapid Transport Company, and Nazeem Abdurahman, chairman of the Caravalle and Lentegeur Taxi Association (CALTA), said the running of the taxi industry as a business and raising the standard of transport in the area were long overdue.

“We will prove that we are more thancapableandhavealready shown that we can discipline our drivers, give them job security and that economic empowerment was imperative to improving service delivery,” said Mr Abdurahman.

Mr Williams said local taxi drivers and operators who had been in the industry for 40 years knew what worked in the community.

Mr Abdurahman said the City had promised them control of the regional taxi companies (RTCs) if they complied.

The RTCs, which have not yet been established, may be contracted by the City to manage security; cleaning; minor maintenance; advertising rights at interchanges; and the land provided for depots and fuelling. He said the interchange was in disarray at the moment.

“The drivers are disorderly. There is security but it is limited, and we are due to look after the property and not commuter safety. The rank is not clean. They (the council) don’t know how to manage the precinct. We know our own house because we live here. They must give us the power. When we manage the rank, we can call in law enforcement,” he said.

Mr Williams, as founder and director of Route 6, is also a partner in the N2 Express Joint Venture (JV) Vehicle Operating Company, with Codeta in Khayelitsha, and the Golden Arrow Bus Service (GABS).

The N2 Express company is responsible for operating the My-
CiTi buses between Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha and the Civic Centre station.

The plan was tabled in council three years ago. At the time, mayoral committee member for transport Brett Herron said that if the pilot was successful the City would approach the national Department of Transport for funding.

Mr Abdurahman said up to 152 route associations across the city were organised into eight regional structures.

Mr Heron said a total of 16 000 vehicle owners and drivers owned about 10 000 operating licences. They competed with each other and illegal operators for passengers.

The model envisages TOCs owning the operating licences and not individuals as is currently the case.

With this model, the individual minibus-taxi operators must transfer their licences to the TOC in exchange for shareholding. The TOCs will own the vehicles, employ and train the drivers and other workers.

Mr Herron said the City would provide funding to employ a professional service to help the industry set up the TOCs, which would have to prepare a business plan, substantiating the number of operating licences required to run the company at a profit.

Mr Herron said he had met with Mr Williams, who supported and was interested in forming a TOC.

He said City officials were dealing with the taxi industry transition and that there were ongoing meetings and engagements.

He said the RTCs had not yet been established.

Mr Herron said the City had committed a substantial amount of funding towards the establishment of TOCs.

“One of the key objectives of forming TOCs is to improve the service rendered to the passenger in terms of driver behaviour, safety and reliability.

“Thesuccessfulroll-outof TOCs would also mean that Mitchell’s Plain minibus-taxi operators will have far better control and managementovertheiroperations,” he said.

Mr Herron said stakeholders in the process included all minibus-taxi associations with legitimate rights or operating licences to operate at the terminal.

“The City is giving high priority to the minibus-taxi transformation project, starting with the pilot phase in Mitchell’s Plain, with the objective of ensuring that control and management at the interchanges are restored and maintained,” he said.

Anyone can file a complaint, whether it is about a driver or an operator, at the terminus between 9am and 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.

For the northern side, between Third and First avenues, call Jasmine Williams at 079 096 3534, 021 391 0559 or 021 391 2211; for the southern terminal, including Seventh Avenue, call Riedwaan Dollie at 083 414 5164; and
for the western, including Hazeldene and the station, call Trevor Martin at 082 483 2178 or 021 392 6442.

Following formal hearings, the operator could face loosing their licence. If these complaints fall on deaf ears, passengers or complainants can register their grievances with the Provincial Operating Licensing Board (POLB) at the corner of Bosduif and Volstruis roads, opposite Vangate Mall, in Athlone. For the registrar, call 021 483 0304.